FDSC40620 Design Thinking for Food Packaging

Academic Year 2021/2022

Indicative Module Description

This module is an undergraduate course designed for stage 4 BSc Food Science students that have passed FSDC30160 and FDSC 40630. The module will focus on food packaging covering aspects of functionality, material science and sustainability from a food science perspective. The students will be posed with a problem related to the package of different food products and through the steps of “design thinking” they will have to “prototype” a packaging solution. During the module the students will familiarize themselves with the “design thinking methods” which includes multiple steps of observation, questioning, data collection and analysis to refine and redefine the problem and come up with feasible solutions to solve food packaging issues. The student will learn how to iterate and improve their ideas to meet the hidden needs and desires of the customer while applying key scientific knowledge related to food packaging.

This module will help the students to develop key competencies that are core for their development as food scientist and future professionals, including identification of customer “wants and needs” related to food packaging as well as empathic approaches to come up with solutions as defined by “design thinking”. The students will also develop the ability to analyse problems from multiple, non-familiar or unconventional perspectives as well as applying the scientific knowledge of the food packaging discipline to solve the identified issues.

This module will take an interactive approach to develop students observational and analytical skills using project based learning. Students will demonstrate observational empathic skills, produce insights extracted from empathy exercises, produce needs analyses and demonstrate successful application of needs to a design or redesign of a food related product. Students will have an opportunity to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through project-led problem based learning group project. The group work skills will ensure students begin to practice skills that will allow them work effectively with others, in a professional manner in an environment of mutual respect, provide leadership, deal with conflict, use library resources effectively and screen appropriate online resources and manage time effectively.

Inclusivity statement

The School of Agriculture and Food Science and the section of Food and Nutrition strive to create a community that nurtures the talents of everyone regardless of socioeconomic status, disability, race, religion, culture, gender or sexual orientation. Our modules and learning environment are designed inclusively, so that they can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible, removing all barriers to learning. Students are provided with equal opportunities to access, participate and succeed, regardless of background, personal circumstances, age or disability. Students are encouraged to approach staff to discuss their learning needs and any information disclosed will be treated with confidentiality and respect.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

The expected specific learning outcomes for the module include:

LO1. Identify and extract customer hidden needs and wants using design thinking methods.

LO2. Observational empathic interview with stakeholders, analyse and interpret results and use them to inform innovative product development.

LO3. Test and iterate packaging design ideas using a customer perspective.

LO4. Reporting on the problem and solutions created: generate design thinking report documenting test procedures, results analysis and conclusions.

LO5. Build knowledge of current and future food packaging strategies.

LO6. Learn to work and communicate complex ideas to multiple audiences and through different media.

Indicative Module Content:

In addition to explaining the principles behind the concept of “Design thinking” and its applications, the content covered in this module will include

- Functions of Food Packaging

- Modified atmosphere packaging

- Active Packaging

- Smart Packaging

- Packaging Materials

- Packaging and sustainability

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Approaches to teaching and learning

This is the second of a pair of Food Science Option Modules designed to build Entrepreneurial skills among Food Science Graduates. The teaching and learning strategy on this module is designed to encourage the application of “design thinking” to solve problems related to food packaging and deliberate iterative processes, thereby promoting the use critical thinking skills and an active-learning/ problem-solving using 'learning-through-doing' approach. This strategy incorporates traditional delivery of lectures with key content on food packaging and resources that will link to previous acquired knowledge of food technology and food chemistry while incorporating the new element of packaging. Moreover, the module will incorporate problem based learning, solving it using the “design thinking approach” that will facilitate the threshold concepts of the discipline.

The module will be done this year as blended learning. The dissemination of discipline knowledge will be done using pre-recorded lectures, being the lecture load light (12h). The main focus is task- based learning in small group sessions that will help develop teamwork and leadership skills in a structured way that will be done in face-to-face session if possible or as live online sessions to guide the work and allow the students have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers rapidly.

This module follows the principles of “universal design for learning” (UDL) by providing (1) multiple means of engagement (providing multiple multimedia resources, pre-recorded lectures, accessible presentations, live online sessions and problem solving scenarios), (2) means of representation (prototyping, presentation, reporting) and (3) means of action and expression (explanation of learning outcomes and how these align with the activities proposed, transparency of assignments-grading and multiple types of assignment). 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
FDSC30070 - Product Development, FDSC30160 - PWE (Food Science), FDSC40630 - Food Sector Entrepreneurship

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Assessment MCQs/Short answer questions and other assessments Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded Yes


Continuous Assessment: Design thinking project (presentation, and report) and other assessments Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Post -assessment feedback ( where no further similar assessment is scheduled) will take the form of grades and/or feedback comments indicating areas for improvement. Students may make an appointment to discuss assessment grades at a time convenient to both Module Co-ordinator and the student. More important, however is feed-forward insights on your learning. This module has a scheduled series of in-class assessments designed to promote team building and develop competence in design thinking. Feedback will be given during the group-work sessions, prior to completing the tasks so that the feedback can feed forward to inform improved performance. These tasks then build to inform higher-stakes group project work later in the module.

Name Role
Dr Marco Garcia-Vaquero Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ms Aoife Kavanagh Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Wed 15:00 - 17:50